Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Goliath, an All-Time Loser
Even though victory was expected, many were surprised when the voting list at the General Assembly hall showed the results: 182 countries voted to put an end to the blockade against Cuba, while 4 said No and only one abstained. Last year’s record figure of 179 countries in support of the island was considered difficult to beat.
Cuba’s unfaltering diplomacy and solidarity explains the overwhelming support received in New York. So many were the number and quality of sympathetic speeches from country members that the US withdrew its name from the list of speakers and left the plenary, said Cuban foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque in a telephone interview from Havana.
Perez Roque mentioned numerous examples of how the blockade harms not only the Cuban economy, but its people and business partners all over the world. The resolution voted today at the UN highlights the principles and norms violated by the US when applying laws with extraterritorial reach like the Helms-Burton Act approved in 1996.
The irrational US policy even hurts its own national interests. A recent Southern Alabama study showed that eliminating the blockade would generate 100,000 new jobs and seven billion dollars in additional income to the US economy.
Instead of broadening the scope of medical attention programs, as over 38 million of its citizens have no access to medical insurance, the United States expends ever greater amounts of money in persecuting Americans who travel to Cuba or buy Cuban products in third countries, including cigars and rum.
Three hundred sixteen US residents were fined last year by the Office of Foreign Assets Control for infringing regulations of the blockade and, as of August of this year, 477 have been fined with up to one million dollar fines for corporations, and for individuals, 250 thousand dollars and ten years in jail.
In spite of the prohibition to visit Cuba, however, US travel magazine readers chose it as the best island in the Caribbean, and among the 115 best destinations in the world.
Thus, the country once identified as the champion of liberty and cradle of pragmatism, is today more isolated internationally for upholding a failed policy that is also self-destructive.